Minister Molewa speaking notes at the preparatory AMCEN meeting for the UNFCCC COP 16

Marrakech, Morocco, 13 November 2016


President of AMCEN,
Minister of Environment of Egypt,
Honorable Ministers,
African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture,
Invited guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1) Paris to Marrakech-Science / analysis by AMCEN Secretariat

a) As this is the first time I take the floor, let me congratulate you Minister Fahmy and the AMCEN and AU Secretariat for organizing this annual event. This meeting is very helpful as it provided all of us with the opportunity to coordinate our positions for the COP/CMP sessions and I dare say CMA session. The entry into force of the Paris Agreement on the 4th of November 2016 has necessitated the convening of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA).

b) In this regard we will need to prepare ourselves adequately for this session and we look forward to fruitful discussion in this meeting and subsequent coordination of the group as the week progresses.

c) One observation that I want to make at this stage is that the COP is on the African soil and as such we should do all we can to support Morocco in hosting a successful event.

d) Similarly, we expect that Morocco will leave a lasting legacy for Africa during this event as we indeed celebrate the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, also for the contributing adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on HFCs, and noting the ICAO outcomes.

e) Let us not forget that the Paris Agreement that we arrived at last year has its origins here on African soil, in the Republic of South Africa, driven mainly by you, the African Ministers, at COP 17 in Durban, and by the Group of 77 plus China, in Paris last year. We as Africans have been central, at the helm, in the driving seat. Let us therefore say in the same vigor, we commit ourselves to working with Morocco at this session.

2) AGN Briefing: Key issues for Africa in the negotiations of COP22

Overview of the negotiations – Chair of AGN

Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) & Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA)

  • Adaptation
  • Finance

Mr. President,

We welcome the briefing by the negotiators and we thank them for doing a great job.

The main issues that we picked up relate to the high level events that will be hosted by Morocco as well as the need to have a smooth CMA1.

We have seen the paper produced by the CoP President and we fully agree with the proposal to have a short CMA1 decision. The proposal is for the COP to continue to oversee the work necessary for the implementation of the Paris Agreement; to suspend the CMA and to reconvene at a later date. We need to be flexible on the issue of reconvening the CMA at a later date, but no later than 2018. 

We fully agree with our negotiators that we need to give a home to issues that are currently not on any agenda but the CMA is mandated to deal with and in particular this relate to the issue of common timeframe for NDCs.

The second issue is about proceeding work of the subsidiary bodies this week.  It appears the negotiators need our guidance on this issue as there are different views. Our proposal as South Africa is that work should continue next week. This should be under the auspices of the CoP Presidency who can then choose all issues that are related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, across all subsidiary bodies and the APA. This work should be facilitated by the same facilitators who did the facilitation this week. This way we avoid issues of mandate and preferential treatment of issues.

Our understanding is that those issues that are not related to the implementation of the CoP under the SBI and SBSTA have been successfully concluded with a few carry over issues for next week as per normal practice. Let us support the COP President in ensuring political momentum.

Progress by negotiators

Capacity building: We would like to congratulate the negotiators for concluding negotiations on the Paris Committee on Capacity Building. For Africa institutional capacity building is a priority. We also welcome the conclusion on the theme for the Paris Committee on Capacity-building that will be on “capacity-building activities for the implementation of nationally determined contributions in the context of the Paris Agreement”.

Adaptation: South Africa emphasizes the importance of increasing support to Africa for development and implementation of our national adaptation plans. We would also like to emphasize the importance of continuing to maintain the profile and emphasis in the negotiations on adaptation, and ensuring the operationalization of the global adaptation goal.

On Loss and Damage: As many speakers have already said,the impacts of climate change are already being experienced, with severe loss and damage being experienced in many African countries, where it is not possible to plan and adapt fast enough. The Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage is key to providing support to African countries affected by such loss and damage. We welcome progress made so far and further welcome the draft rolling Five Year Work Plan as the basis for further inputs on the work of the WIM for COP 23. We must encourage the negotiators to find a solution to the loss and damage negotiations as they resume tomorrow.

On finance, developed country Parties also need to provide a clear pathway towards mobilising the US$100 billion in climate finance per annum by 2020 and on the provision of technology and capacity-building.

In particular, we wish to emphasise that this COP should explore ways of increasing financing for adaptation. In this regard, Africa is calling for a 50:50 allocation of funds between mitigation and adaptation activities. It is also critical to find a resolution in the negotiations, here in Marrakech, for the Adaptation Fund to serve the Paris Agreement. Given the increasing adaptation obligations under the Paris Agreement and the growing needs of developing countries, multiple vehicles to access grant based finance for adaptation is very important.

Finally, we believe that this COP should prioritise pre-2020 commitments and the Pre-2020 Action Agenda, led by our climate champions, Ambassador Laurence Tubiana and Minister Hakima El Haite. The various initiatives launched under the Pre-2020 Action Agenda by Parties and non-state actors can play a key role in accelerating international cooperation on combatting climate change. We should to do more and better on this front. We need a clear assessment of the impact of these initiatives on the ambition gap. We also need to increase visibility of these initiatives and foster closer collaboration between Parties and non-state actors.

Africa Renewable Energy Initiative

We welcome the briefing on the progress regarding the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) and of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), which was endorsed by the African Union Assembly. Furthermore, the Assembly at at is Summit in January 2016, called for the swift finalization and opertionalisation of the AREI; expressed appreciation for the support by development partners to AREI, and the scaling up their support, in order to meet the 300GW target by 2030.

It is noted that the AU Assembly at their meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016 took a decision on the governance structure of the AREI, comprising a number of components including a Board of Directors; a Technical Committee (TC); the African Development Bank to act as a Trustee to manage the initiative‘s resources; and an Independent Delivery Unit (IDU) to coordinate the annual work programme, it was decided that the AfDB will host the IDU which shall be accountable to the AREI Board. We also note that the Assembly nominated the African Union Commission in collaboration with the African Development Bank as co-leaders of the initiative to operationalize the AREI in furtherance of Africa’s development and industrialisation.

However, as this is an important continental initiative, the African Ministers of Environment would appreciate that the President of AMCEN would circulate the documents, including the draft Terms of Reference for the AREI for the consideration by the Member States, which ideally should have been done before the Assembly decided on this issue.  We also expected that the draft proposed governance would have been circulated. It is important to ensure the role of AMCEN, in both Board of Directors and in the Technical Committee.

3) Reaction to presentation on matters related to AMCEN and the African Union Technical Committee (STC) on agriculture, rural development, water and environment

Mr President,

We wish to recall that the African Union Assembly at its meeting in Addis Ababa in January 2013, took a decision on the Coordination of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) an AU Assembly structure established to advance the African Continent’s Climate Change interests at Heads-of-State level. This decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.457(XX)) mandated the country holding the Presidency of AMCEN at the Ministerial level, to also serve as the Coordinator of CAHOSCC. This decision gives the Presidency of AMCEN enormous power at the Ministerial and Heads of State level to shape the African environment and climate change agenda and also further legitimizes AMCEN’s important role within the AU in this regard.

At its inaugural meeting in Addis Ababa in October 2015, the STC on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (STC ARDWE) made recommendations regarding the existing self-financing ministerial conferences whose thematic areas fall within the competence of the STC on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment. Furthermore, the meeting recommended that this STC should coordinate and harmonise the implementation of ongoing programmes related to the Sectors.

In the interim, it was proposed that the self-financing Ministerial Conferences should be allowed to continue to function as a “transitional arrangement”, but as agreed by the STC until such a time when the STC and its supporting Secretariat becomes fully operational. It should be noted that the existing self-financing Ministerial Conferences of AMCEN, AMCOW and AMCOMET are not supported financially by the AU Commission and also have their own institutional arrangements financed by Member States through annual contributions. Hence, the AU derives benefits from the contributions of these Conferences to the African agendas of Environment, Water and Meteorology without carrying the financial burden to administer and coordinate the functioning of these Conferences.  

The prevailing sentiment during the Sixth Special Session of AMCEN held in Cairo from 16-19 April 2016 proposals were made that AMCEN should be considered as the 15th STC given the specialized and cross-cutting nature of environment. The decision adopted by the AMCEN 6th Special Session called on the AU to recognize the political guidance provided by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in shaping and formulating African common positions on matters related to environment and sustainable development including, inter alia, the 2030 Agenda, African Union Agenda 2063, climate change, biodiversity, chemical and waste management, as well as multilateral environmental agreements. A brief report in support of the above process, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of retaining AMCEN, based on (i) an evaluation of the work done by AMCEN over the last 30 years; (ii) achievements of AMCEN and (iii) challenges for Africa in the post Paris Agreement on Climate Change era and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 was also requested for submission to the AU Assembly.

It was also decided that the President of AMCEN who also serves as the Coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) should be mandated to submit this decision to the Africa Union Commission for consideration by the July 2016 African Union Summit, with the proposal that given the increasing importance of the environmental dimension in sustainable development in Africa and the world, that AMCEN continues to operate as an independent body. And furthermore, for the Assembly should be requested to review its decision to abolish the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment as a regional ministerial body under the African Union.

Therefore, Mr President, we really need to reach a win-win conclusion on this long-standing matter.

I thank you.